It is the people who make the trip.

It never really gets old. It seems cliché, but it is true. Every time I fly through Europe to some new and unfamiliar destination, the people I meet amaze me. I don’t really consider myself to be much of a conversationalist but for some reason people always end up talking to me.

Today I was on my way to Budapest, catching a connecting flight through Heathrow, when my friend and I met two distinctive people. The first was a TSA officer who clearly wasn’t in the mood to deal with my optimistic outlook and the second was a Hungarian lady who attended the University of Colorado Boulder, where I currently study.

It wasn’t half an hour into our trip when someone said something strange to me. My best friend and I have this theory; whenever we are together some randomly guy will say something to one of us that takes us completely off guard. This time, it was a TSA officer in Denver. I was about to take off on an international flight with my best friend to explore an exotic city in Eastern Europe. Can you blame me for being excited? Opportunities like this are what I live for. So when he asked me why I was smiling so much, I just told him that I was excited. I wasn’t about to lie to TSA officer! To that, he replied with an overly salty and dramatic response of “Well aren’t you just a cheeseball.” A cheeseball? A cheeseball!! I have been called a lot of things, but this was a first.

For this flight, we took British Airways from Denver to Heathrow The downfall to British Airways is that they always have trouble being on time. Every single time I have flown on a direct flight on BA, which granted has only been 3 occasions, the flight inevitably ends up being delayed by at least an hour. By now I’ve learned that in order to make a connecting flight from Heathrow, you need a minimum of two hours unless you plan on booking it down the concourse. In March of 2015, I wrote about about yet another one of this airport’s many dysfunctions. But instead of having trouble with the airport this time, it was security that caught me off guard. I made the mistake of assuming that just because the Denver TSA approved my carryon items, Heathrow security check probably would would too. As I was headed down the line, I was pulled to the side and told to remove the contents of my bag and was forced to re-sort my luggage no less then three different times under the supervision of the security officer. Turns out that I had accidently left a bottle of sunscreen at the bottom of my backpack. Oops…

What this experience produced though was a friend. When I was shuffling everything so it fit back into my backpack, the Hungarian lady mentioned earlier caught sight of a CU sticker on the back of my phone. While waiting in the terminal this lead to a half hour discussion of the Culture of Boulder Colorado, the “trust fund hippies” that inhabit it, and the “communist design” of the engineering building. I use those quotations not as paraphrases, but rather as direct quotes. She clearly chose her words with precision because those might just me the most accurate descriptions I have ever heard. The quote about the design about the engineering center caught me off guard because she followed up the “communist design” comment with a personal anecdote about her experience with the communist regime. She also mentioned that in her day the Alfred Packer Grill served great panini. Personally, I still think this stands true today. Although our college may have added new additions like buffalo sharped pools and fancy community centers, they at least have managed to keep their panini priorities strait.

As we finally arrived in Budapest, I was shocked how green that the city is. I don’t mean necessarily earth friendly, but rather luscious. The trees were covered in huge leaves, many areas were landscaped in flawless lawns and flowers were abundant. Unlike many other European cities that I have visited, they also have lots of parks and greenbelt areas hidden within the city. These all make a wonderful foreground in pictures (for all you aspiring photographers out there.)

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Budapest: Here I Come

2016 has been a big year. It has changed me as person, for both good and bad reasons. The last five months of my life have been some of the most emotional ones I have ever experienced. Those who know me realize that I’m not one to openly express what I feel, it’s not in my nature. So as my first completed year of college comes to  an end, I’ve decided it is time to exercise my newfound freedom and take a trip across the globe.

When I first imaged taking this trip, I pictured being accompanied by my two best friends.  But, after a heartbreaking loss, it will only be my friend Lauren and I. Although our friend Luke won’t be able to accompany us physically, he will accompany us in our thoughts and our hearts. Although my trio may be gone, our original optimism and inclination for adventure continues. The world awaits and we will take it on with heavy hearts.

A year ago, I would have never pictured where I am today. Throwing together an international trip in only a week has been a challenge, but an exciting learning experience. I’m so thankful that I was raised with an international and opportunistic mind set. I get a thrill out of planning each and every new adventure.

This trip is unique because, unlike in the past when I had others doing my planning, the details were completely left up to my friend and I. To my surprise, the difficulty did not lie in the reservations or flights. The difficult part is getting ahold of the proper currency and learning enough of the language to get by. If you haven’t heard, Hungarian is arguably one of the most difficult languages to learn on the entire planet. According to wikipedia it has 14 vowel phonemes and 25 consonant phonemes… whatever that means. My overly American accent is not prepared to handle the sounds required to achieve proper pronunciation. It also turns out that Hungarian Forints aren’t typically kept in stock at currency exchange centers in the state of Colorado. Right now, our game plan for learning the language is to make friends on the plane during our layover from Heathrow to Budapest. As for currency, we are forced to try our luck at an airport currency exchange kiosk.

 

 

48 hours in DC

Washington, DC is a city of hustle and bustle. Personally, that’s why I am so attracted to it. The people in a city that never sleeps is usually driven by ambition and a vision.  DC is a perfect example. There is always someone new to meet, places to see, and things to try. I have a deep love for DC because whenever I am there its like I’m on top of the world.

This time around in DC, I was actually there for originally an international fraternity conference called Phi Alpha Delta. This group is composed of undergraduate students, graduate students, and also those going through law school. We are collectively committed to the end goal of finding a career in the legal profession. I was still lucky enough to find time to explore the city in the short 48 hours my group and I were there.

We spent Saturday afternoon exploring a few key Smithsonian museums. The Air and Space museum was impressive because of the space and air history artifacts put on display. This had been my second time at the museum so perhaps it was less interesting to me. But, I had never been to the Botanical Gardens or the American History Museum before.

For anyone traveling to DC in the near future, I would highly suggest the American History Museum. When you walk in its not overly impressive, but by the time you finally get to the meat of the exhibits, the content and research that has gone into the exhibits have a profound effect. There is nothing like experiencing an overview of American History where many of the decisions about the outcomes have been made. The section on American war was perhaps my favorite. It starts out with the American Revolution and slowly transitions from war to war based on a linear timeline. But as you approach later wars and more controversial wars, like the Vietnam War, they are presented in a way that becomes very real for those visiting the exhibit. I don’t think ever been so moved by an exhibit, not emotionally but mentally. The American History of war Museum at the Smithsonian left me with a deep curiosity and new perspective on quite a few things. I suggest that if you can make the time, it would be worth spending an entire day or two at this museum alone.

The botanical museum was mostly just beautiful. The diversity of plants are astounding. The most interesting rooms were probably either the endangered species room or the room that featured various medicinal plants. I have always had an interest in botany so I found this museum more interesting them my counterparts but they still enjoyed themselves. This  botanical museum could comfortably be seen in an hour or two. But make sure not to miss it. I had no idea that it was even there until this trip. It is hidden in comparison to the rest of the mall. Instead of being directly off the National Mall, it sits directly to the right of the Capitol Building.

After the Smithsonian closed we made our way up to Capitol hill and toured the outsides of the buildings in this area. From the outside, the Supreme Court was by far the most impressive. It reminded me of  ancient buildings that I’ve seen  in citifies like Vienna or Rome. Its Roman pillars were larger then most redwoods. You had to stand a couple hundred feet back from the building just to get a complete picture bottom to top, but you were free to walk up on the steps outside of the building. Perhaps less impressive from the outside but still beautiful was the Library of Congress.  Although, if you do make your way up to Capitol Hill, make sure that you do it between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:30 PM. Unfortunately, we arrived about an hour late and the doors were closed to the pubic. I would have bet though that the interior would have made up for the unimpressive exterior.

The most majestic moment that I encountered in DC was walking through the memorials during sunset. I cannot stress the beauty of the Lincoln Memorial with a gorgeous sunset behind it. The colored light was bouncing over the reflection pool and the area glowed of purple and blue.12118679_492143454288692_78464703576351655_n

mosquitoes and mayhem

Fun Fact: I have never been camping.

Despite the fact I have lived  in the heart of the Rocky Mountains for 18 years and have a deep love for the outdoors, I have never been camping. Or, at lest until now….

Our little camping trip originally started as a week long group trip to Lake Powell but eventually after several road blocks we had a change of plans. It made me sad at the time to consider all of our planning we had done over the course of a month was irrelevant. But after reflecting upon the events of the last couple days, I know realize the verse had something else in mind for me.

It didn’t quite hit me until we were out in the middle of freaking nowhere without cell service how much I actually trust my boyfriend. Since our other friend decided to bail on the trip, it turned out to just be the two of us. As we drove mile after mile into the wilderness it occurred to me just how easy it would be to kill someone out here and dispose of the body without a trace. (What a romantic thought to be having while alone with your boyfriend… I know) Still, the thought of being outside the reach of reality and responsibility with such an awesome person for a few days was a awesome thought.

We reached our destination and started to set up camp in a little field on the edge of an aspen grove. We started to set up the tent.  I attempted to help, but felt like I was performing an SNL comedy skit. Not only was my clumsy disposition getting in the way but I had never actually set one up before. It probably looked like I was attempting to build a space ship for NASA according to the look of pure concentration on my face.

As sunset neared, so did the misquotes. They were literally everywhere. As we made smores for dessert we decided to try putting peanut butter on the gram crackers. Which is amazing and delicious for the record. But it turns out they are also attracted to peanut butter. I was already pretty frustrated at that point so my rage accidentally let itself out as I yelled “STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY PEANUT BUTTER!” The look on my boyfriend’s face was priceless because he assumed I was talking to him at first. oops. I have a feeling that this is the start of a long term inside joke.

Strangely enough, the award for most awkward moment of the night goes to the moment when we realized we had been set up. It was your classic situation. Unknown to my boyfriend, one of his friends had snuck a condom and a pack of beer into our camping supplies. Luckily we had a good laugh about it and I have a pretty solid plan to mess with his friend next time I see him.

I have decided that the point of camping isn’t to relax and enjoy nature. It is to go for an adventure, open yourself up to new experiences with friends, and see what kind of mischief you manage to get yourself into. Well, maybe all that plus enjoying the night sky. For the record: those stars were amazing.

A whole new world 

After nearly my first whole day in Prague I can say one thing for certain. This is a city, unlike other old European cities, that is still growing and developing its own sence of peonality.

Ever since the fall of the communist party here, Prague has been establishing a new culture. Since the city was not bombed during would war 2 all the historical buildings and gothic architecture stand tall and intact. From the cobblestone streets, up past the carefully detailed siding, bright redrooves, and up to the starkly contrasting bright blue sky, the city screams of its pride.  On the outside of town hundreds of ugly and cold apartment buildings can be seen falling into disrepair and rubble. They show proof of the communist party’s failed attempt at mass housing before independence was won for the Czech people.

Despite ancient buildings and historical streets, the city is beaming of youth.  At night the streets grow crowded and noisy as people flock to clubs, bars, restaurants, and concerts. Young adults from across Europe flock to the city on weekends to party and take part in cheap food and good alcohol. Beer is very popular here and the city is renoued for its various brews. They also have a selection of delicious wine (both sweet white and oaky red)… My favorites.

They are also unusually relaxed about rules and regulations. At dinner last night I ordered wine, since I am not yet eighteen they didn’t seem to care about age and therefor failed to ask me for identification. Although this is pretty standard around Europe, it still seems odd in contrast to the laws of the United States.

Cars park wherever they wish in the streets. Last night smart cars were scattered on sidewalks and larger cars jut out every which way on the street.  People also tend to be very aggressive  and fast drivers in this city. If you don’t look both ways before crossing a street, you have a very high chance at being hit head on at fourth miles per hour or more. Last night I was almost side swiped by a man on a little motorcycle.

Yet another variation which supposed me was the amount of smoke in the city. Unlike the United States, smoking is not only allowed …but encouraged in many public restaurants and bars. In the markets and major squares people use smokers to cook ham, cinnamon  rolls, and other classic street food. Instead of fried food, Prague seemed to have smoked food.

If you ever happen to visit the city, I highly recommend the local street food. I has some honey baked ham today for lunch and it was simply delicious. Tomorrow I hope to try other street food such as their famous potato crisps.

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the start of a travel blog on Prague

As spring break nears, so does my anticipation for my trip abroad. Like I have stated in past posts, travel is an important aspect to my life. Nothing can quite match the exhilaration of it. Still, the week before a big trip I find that my mind is racing and I am starting to freak out about all the things I have to accomplish before my plane takes off.

Passport: Check

Travel scarf: Check

Foreign Currency: Check

Still, making sure I have everything packed is one of my least concerns. Final plans and reservations for not only plane tickets, but hotel reservations, train tickets, and schedule timing sit in the back of my mind.

I have recently made a contact/ friend in the Czech Republic.I have gotten to know her because of my father who has previous connections with the IPA, an international organization for retired law enforcement officers for various nations all over the world. The group provides a local representative to greet fellow members of the organization and their families traveling abroad.  Over the last week I have been coordinating with her about plans and possibilities about my trip.

Since I will be celebrating my 18th birthday in Prague, which is the legal drinking age, she invited me to go clubbing with her and her friends. Despite being in a foreign country, this is an experience which will be somewhat new to me.  I’ve had alcohol before, but it  still seems weird that I will finally be of age to partake in an open and public setting with friends. In fact, after the fall of the communist regime, clubbing in the Czech Republic has evidently been growing more and more popular and the nightlife in the city has exploded. It seems unreal that I will be there to experience it with my own eyes in less then a week.

According to my guide Hanka, Drum and Bass is a very popular type of music for local clubs. Since this genre isn’t very popular in America, I haven’t had much experience with it. But it pretty much just sounds like European Dub-Step. Shout out to YouTube for a quick education in the subject.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTFnisU752g

To thank her she actually asked me to bring her makeup…of all things! I did not realize this, but cosmetics about double the price in large European cities. For some reason they are a lot cheaper in the US. My guess it is might be because of currency change rates and transportation costs.

I have always dreamed  about becoming a travel blogger. Now, this is going to become a reality( at least for two weeks)  I promise to update you with my progress and share my encounters with the unknown.